There are no words. There isn’t a scientific formulation that can help anyone come up with the right words when emotions are running high.
Sure, Instagram has made it easy to talk about mental health. But what others are failing to understand is that for those of us who grew up in an era where we were forced to hide our emotions and deal with it on our own accord – is that we do not want to be pounded on by anyone /our significant other’s flashing neon sign stating “Share your feelings.”
As a former hospice nurse experienced with the emotional intensity involved in the end of life; one of the best forms of communications I have found effective was silence. Vigilant Silence.
Vigilant Silence is a communication tool.
It is a tool that practices the act of silence while vigilantly picking up on the affected one’s cues/body language so that we can gauge when/how to step in.
Vigilant silence requires just the basic knowledge of body language and experience in reading the room.
It is practice where one does the most while saying the least.
At times when emotions are running high, our minds are not in the best state of function. Judgement can get clouded. Words can get misinterpreted and worst, they can be ineffective.
So this is where vigilant silence takes center stage in an event where high emotions are actively in play.
It involves two principles.
1.) Taking cues. When your significant other/loved one is in a state of shock, but are still going through their day to day routine at home – they might have a tendency to forget meetings , misplace belongings, wear incorrectly paired shoes , absentmindedly wear clothes from the dirty laundry, move through the day in a haze or even watch netflix with catatonia . This is where we apply vigilant silence. We are with them through silence and we make it a little better for them. It can be as easy as making their morning / taking care of a complicated task for them /ensuring healthy meals or snacks are available at home /covering them with a blanket or a hug mid netflix binge catatonia / showing them small gestures of affection that lets them know that they are not alone in this, and you are literally at arm’s length.
2.) Knowing your place. Harsh as it may sound, but this is said with compassionate directness. The fastest way to self depreciation is when we want to become someone’s everyone. We are someone’s spouse. We are someone’s rock. But we are not their therapist. We are not their ride-or- die from college. We are not their life coach. We are not the guru they follow on the ‘gram. We are not the cousin they grew up with. We do not have all the answers. We do not know all the right things to say. We cannot be their everyone. Who we are , is someone they know, who is smart enough to back off and even smarter enough to know when to step in.
And it isn’t through pounding. Learning to take cues , knowing our place & silence will slowly help the right things to be said at the right time unfold.
So I guess, there is some sort of formula afterall.